Characterizing determinants of BK Polyomavirus-specific immune response

Cioni, Michela. Characterizing determinants of BK Polyomavirus-specific immune response. 2016, PhD Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_11711


BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) is one of now 13 human polyomavirus (HPyV) species detected in humans. BKPyV is only known to infect humans and seroprevalence rates of more than 90% have been reported in adult populations around the world. Following primary infection, BKPyV persists in the renourinary tract without causing any disease as evidenced by urinary shedding in 5% - 10% of healthy immunocompetent blood donors.
In immunocompromised persons, however, BKPyV can cause significant diseases whereby uncontrolled high-level replication may lead to organ invasive pathologies in kidneys, bladder, lungs, vasculature, and the central nervous system. The most consistently found diseases are BKPyV-associated hemorrhagic cystitis (BKPyVHC) in 5%-20% allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells transplant patients, and BKPyV-associated nephropathy (BKPyVAN) in 1%-15% of kidney transplant patients. BKPyVHC is highly symptomatic with pain, anemic bleeding, and increased mortality. BKPyVAN is asymptomatic except for progressive renal failure and premature return to dialysis. Both entities are characterized by high-level viral replication i.e. with urine BKPyV loads of 8-10 log10 Geq/mL, plasma BKPyV loads often above 4 log10 Geq/mL, and an allogeneic constellation between the virus-infected host cell and the available T-cell effectors. Despite these similarities, the clinical manifestations are strikingly different suggesting relevant, but experimentally undefined differences in pathogenesis. Thus, BKPyVHC typically occurs within 4 weeks after allogeneic HSCT and is confined to the bladder, and typically without kidney involvement. By contrast, BKPyVAN is diagnosed around 3-6 months after kidney transplantation and confined to the kidney allograft without causing cystitis. Although high-level BKPyV replication should be formally amenable to antiviral drug treatment, no effective and BKPyV-specific antiviral therapy is currently available. Therefore, a better understanding of the immune alteration in both diseases has been deemed essential to identify patients at risk and to develop prophylactic, preemptive and therapeutic strategies.
The currently recommended strategy for BKPyVAN is to screen kidney transplant patients for BKPyV replication and to promptly reduce immunosuppressive therapy in those with significant replication to facilitate mounting of BKPyV-specific T cell responses and thereby preventing progression to disease. This manoeuver has been linked to expanding BKPyV-specific T cell responses in the peripheral blood of kidney transplant patients. However, this approach may place patients at risk for acute rejection episodes that predispose equally well to premature kidney transplant failure. Although the clinical feasibility of reducing immunosuppression and curtailing BKPyV replication has been shown to be effective in prospective cohort studies for many, but not all of kidney transplant patients, this approach has not been possible in allogeneic HSCT patients because of concurrent or imminent graft-versus host disease. Thus, there are significant gaps in the current understanding of the BKPyV– host interaction in the normal host and in the allogeneic setting, which need to be investigated for a more effective and safer management of these significant viral complications.
In this thesis, the interaction of BKPyV and the immune response has been approached from two different angles. In the first project, potential mechanisms of BKPyV immune evasion were studied. Here, we focused on a small accessory protein called agnoprotein encoded as a leader protein in the late viral early region (LVGR). Although HPyV genomes overall show a very similar genome organization, agnoproteins are only found in the genomes of BKPyV and JCPyV that have a kidney tropisms, but not in any of the other 11 presumably non-renotropic HPyVs. We hypothesized that agnoprotein could play a role in immune evasion by downregulating HLA expression. The effects of agnoprotein were studied on HLA class I and II expression in vitro by flow cytometry following transfection of primary human renal tubular epithelial cells, which are the viral target of BKPyV-associated nephropathy. In addition, transfected human UTA-6 cells were studied as well as UTA-6 cells bearing a tetracycline-regulated agnoprotein. As control, the effects were compared with the ICP47 protein of Herpes simplex virus-1, which has been previously reported to effectively down-regulate HLA class I. Although both viral proteins share some similarities at the protein level, our results showed that BKPyV agnoprotein did not down-regulate HLA class I or class II molecules. Also, there was not inhibitory effect on the increase of HLA-class I or class-II surface expression following exposure to interferon-. By contrast, ICP47 reduced HLA class I surface expression, but not class II. We also evaluated effects of agnoprotein on virus epitope-specific T-cell killing by 51Chromium release assay, however no interference could be observed. We concluded that agnoprotein did not contribute to these types of HLA-dependent immune evasion processes. However, further investigations are needed to understand if agnoprotein could contribute to viral immune escape by other mechanisms.
In the second project, we aimed at better characterizing BKPyV-specific CD8 T cell immunity targeting epitopes encoded in the early viral gene region (EVGR). Selected coding sequences of the BKPyV EVGR were submitted to two web-based computer algorithms (SYFPEITHI, IEDB) in order to predict immunodominant 9mer epitopes presented by 14 frequent HLA-class I molecules. For an experimental confirmation, 97 different 9mer epitopes were chemically synthesized and tested in 42 healthy individuals. A total of 39 epitopes could be confirmed by interferon- ELISpot assay in at least 30% of healthy individuals. Interestingly, most of the 9mer epitopes appeared to cluster in short amino acid stretches, and some 9mer could be presented by more than one HLA class I allele as expected for immunodominant domains. HLA-specific presentation was demonstrated by 9mer- MHC-I streptamers for 21/39 (54%) epitopes. The 9mer dependent T-cell killing by 51Chromium release assay and the CD107a surface detection indicated that the 9mer epitopes could be recognized by cytotoxic T-cells. Moving to a clinically relevant situation, 13 9mer epitopes could be validated in 19 kidney transplant patients protected from, or recovering from, BKPyV viremia. The results suggest that, pending further corroboration in larger patient populations, novel 9mer epitopes can be identified, which are associated with CD8 T cell control of BKPyV replication. Thus the identified immunodominant 9mer T-cell epitopes could be further developed for clinical assays to better predict the risk and the recovery of BKPyV diseases, help guiding immunosuppression reduction, and to develop specific adoptive T-cell therapy or vaccine responses to prevent or treat BKPyV-associated diseases
Advisors:Palmer, Ed and Rolink, Antonius G. and Hirsch, Hans H. and Finke, Daniela
Faculties and Departments:03 Faculty of Medicine > Bereich Medizinische Fächer (Klinik) > Nephrologie > Exp. Transplantationsimmunologie und Nephrologie (Palmer)
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis no:11711
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (169 Seiten)
Identification Number:
Last Modified:19 Sep 2016 09:41
Deposited On:19 Sep 2016 09:41

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